N.B.'s plan to reopen is music to the ears of festival organizers

·3 min read
Dawes performing at Harvest Jazz and Blues festival in 2018.  (Gary Moore/CBC - image credit)
Dawes performing at Harvest Jazz and Blues festival in 2018. (Gary Moore/CBC - image credit)

New Brunswick's plans to lift COVID-19 restrictions by Aug. 2, pending vaccination rates, is music to the ears of festival organizers, but it may not be enough time to make sweeping changes for this year.

Harvest Jazz and Blues organizers have the best shot at taking advantage of a possible restriction-free festival in September.

But will people be comfortable heading back to large gatherings again so soon? That's what festival organizers are trying to gauge now.

Brent Staeben, director of music for Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival, said they're sending out a patron survey to measure comfort levels about being in a large crowd.

"To get a sense from people as to what their current and potentially September-like future comfort levels will be like," he said.

Brent Staeben is director of music programming for Harvest Jazz and Blues.
Brent Staeben is director of music programming for Harvest Jazz and Blues. (Gary Moore/CBC)

Few details about this year's festival have been released, but Staeben said they were intending to have some live audiences this September prior to the government's announcement.

He said depending on the results of the survey they might be able to have more than what they've been planning.

More details will be released in mid-June, once organizers hear from patrons.

For organizers with Area 506 in Saint John the news of the province's plans to potentially lift COVID-19 restrictions in early August is welcome news, but too late for their festival this year.

"For this summer we had to plan with what we knew," said Ray Gracewood, founder of Area 506.

Usually the festival takes place on the New Brunswick day long weekend, but this year organizers planned a new format to work with COVID-19 restrictions that have been in place for months.

This year the festival will be a series of waterfront concerts in July and August.

Area 506 founder and chairperson Ray Gracewood said this year's festival will be a series of waterfront concerts.
Area 506 founder and chairperson Ray Gracewood said this year's festival will be a series of waterfront concerts. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

People will sit with their friends in pods of six or ten people.

Gracewood said he's pleased with the new approach to the festival this year and is happy with the setup.

"I think we found a great solution that sort of allows us to offer a series of ten concerts."

Virtual show for Baroque fans

Baroque music fans around the Acadian Peninsula will have to wait a little longer for a return to in-person performances for the Lamèque International Baroque Music Festival.

Organizers have filmed this year's festival to show online in July.

Vincent Lauzer is the artistic director of the festival and said many of the performers are from outside of the province.

"We have to be flexible, and our main goal is always to offer great music to the people," he said.

Lauzer said although the potential reopening of New Brunswick won't change their festival this year, he would like to try and bring some sort of a live show to Lamèque before next summer.

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